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Tested By Tiso | The North Face Futurelight Assault Bivy

Recently we asked Paul Wilson, a photographer from Ayrshire with a passion for adventure in the mountains, to review The North Face Futurelight Assault Bivy. He has been climbing mountains since he was 18, when he climbed Goatfell on Arran. His dad influenced his love for the outdoors and in particular Scotland's mountains.

Best suited for: Mountain adventures, rain or shine

Location: Glencoe, Scotland

Weather: Cool and dry

The weekend saw me try something different. I thought I would give summit camping a go, combining this with my hobbies - my love of Scotland’s mountains and photography. This is something completely new to me having virtually no camp experience at all.

At the end of 2020 I began doing some research on summit camping, trying to look at the pros and cons. I even did a poll on my Instagram page asking people’s opinion on summit camping... tents or Bivy bag? The result came back exactly 50/50! So I guess it comes down to each and everyone’s own preference. I then started looking at both tents and bivy bags. Keeping in mind the amount of photography equipment I carry on these adventures and the weight of it, I was looking for something compact and light weight, as well as durable and practical. That quickly started ruling out tents and I was beginning to warm more towards the idea of bivvying.

After further research the eventual outcome was The North Face Futurelight Assault Bivy. Coming in at only 0.42kg and a pack size of 15.2 x 3.5 cm!

First impressions of this were great! Super compact and lightweight, looks great with the classic North Face Summit gold and black colours. The new Futurelight waterproof and breathable fabrics had me curious if they would perform as well as GORE-TEX. Fast forward 6 months and the time finally arrived for me to test it! Where else was I going to go other than my favourite place in Scotland... Glencoe! The weather was looking favourable and I was excited to do my first summit camp.

I set off mid-afternoon as I wanted to be on the mountain top before the sunset. The climb up with the added equipment certainly made a big difference - it was slow and steady but once up there the forecast proved right as the cloud started breaking up and all the peaks around were in clear view. Setting up my camp could not have been easier... First put down my ground sheet, then unravelled the bivy itself and put my sleeping mat and my sleeping bag inside. Opened out the bivy bag is an impressive 264 x 58.5cm and is extremely roomy.

I was equally impressed with the square cut hood above my head. I was able to fit my 65 ltr backpack, as well as my boots, tripod, camera and drone with a little extra room to spare! There is a mesh closure, which is great for midges in Scotland and is pleasant in milder conditions, as well as having the waterproof closure should the weather take a turn for the worst! Another feature I quite liked was the reinforced brow which is designed to keep the bag off your face so you don't feel to claustrophobic. My only negative is that possibly it’s a bit flimsy because of the way the bag is packed and needs a bit of work to take the folds out the wire... but it does work.

After some sunset photos and a quick bite to eat it was time to sleep for a few hours at least. Again the bag performed well, it was comfortable, warm and roomy. After a couple of hours rest I looked out and to my surprise it still was not completely dark. I had a quick check of the time... 1 am and I could still see that warm red glow behind Ben Nevis! All night was pretty much blue hour and the peaks were clear and visible all night. Conditions were simply perfect. After a few shots I put my head down again for a few hours rest before getting up at 3:30 to prepare for my sunrise shots.

Packing up the bivy was just as easy as setting up, and took only minutes to put away. I had time to have a coffee and snack before watching the sunrise, then it was time to head back down and home to my wee dog.

Overall my first experience of using the bivy was excellent. People would argue that a tent is better all-round, giving you the room inside to store and get ready, but I decided to do bivy because my aim was to maximise my time on the mountains with the minimum fuss. The bivy certainly delivered! It was roomy, warm, water and wind resistant and extremely lightweight and compact; I would highly recommend it to anyone considering bivvying. This is an extremely well made and designed bit of kit and will be accompanying me on many future adventures.

Rating: 10/10

The Good

  • Super compact and lightweight - pack size of 15.2 x 3.5cm and weighing 0.42kg
  • Unrolls to an impressive size - fitted mat, sleeping bag, backpack, boots, tripod, camera and drone inside with room to spare
  • Mesh closure is brilliant for keeping midges out
  • Yellow colour great for safe mountain use
  • Warm and roomy

The Bad

  • Reinforced brow a little flimsy, but does work
  • Yellow colour may not be ideal for wild campers who wish to secret themselves away
  • Would require further testing in different climates to check for condensation issues
The North Face Product, tested by Paul Wilson Photographer @paulwilsonsphotography

Thanks to Paul for testing our kit in its natural habitat.

Camping At Tiso

Tiso are proud to bring you the best range of outdoor gear in Scotland. Whether you want to test yourself in the hills, keep warm on the dog walk, or hike throughout winter, we've got you covered. Pop into your local Tiso store to see the full range. See More Camping